Classical royalty in the form of violinist Itzhak Perlman debuted in Spokane in 2020. Yo-Yo Ma is the latest top tier musician, who will finally play the Lilac City in 2023. The cello virtuoso, who will perform Wednesday at the Fox Theater, is recognized not only for his technical brilliance but also for his engaging interpretative ability.
There is no one else like the Paris-born and New York-raised musician. “It is huge for us to have Yo-Yo Ma perform here,” Spokane Symphony conductor James Lowe said. “There is no classical artist who is bigger. Yo-Yo Ma has Sesame Street appeal. He’s such a great musician and has been for a very long time.”
Ma, 67, was a child prodigy, who began performing before considerable crowds at age five. Ma played for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy when he was just 7. At 8, Ma appeared on American television with his sister in an event introduced by Leonard Bernstein.
In 1964 Isaac Stern introduced Ma and his sister on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and that was just the start of an unparalleled career. Ma has released a myriad of albums, has 20 Grammy Awards and is a recording artist many musicians have recorded with over the years.
A diverse group of icons have worked with Ma, such as James Taylor, Carlos Santana, Sting, Diana Krall and Miley Cyrus.
“Who wouldn’t want to perform with him,” Lowe said. “This event with Yo-Yo Ma is such a highlight for me and everyone with the symphony. I’ve only seen him once and it was extraordinary. It will be an unforgettable event when he performs in Spokane.”
Ma, Lowe and the Spokane Symphony will perform Antonin Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances, Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B Minor “The Unfinished,” and Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor.
“It’s an honor to have such a musician perform with us but I’m also excited since Yo-Yo Ma is such a humanitarian,” Lowe said. “Yo-Yo Ma is about uniting people and he’s played such a unique role in our culture. When he performs in Spokane it will be such a special night.”